Music and Movement Class
Dance is a universal language and it is spoken with unabashed joy by young children. Our own Cathy Cunningham combines her knowledge as a preschool teacher and years as a trained dancer to entice children of all age levels to explore music, movement and rhythm and to take appropriate risks in a safe environment. Our Music and Movement program helps young children to develop flexibility and stamina while discovering how their bodies move in space. The children use instruments, scarves, songs, and poems to create movement sequences and improvisational storytelling. We know that traditional education relies heavily on auditory and visual learning. When children learn kinesthetically through music and dance, this helps to deepen their understanding and learning.
Physical Education Class
Our Physical Education program is run by physical education teacher and coach, Dina DeSanto. Dina provides age appropriate experiences that engage each child’s mind and body using a non-competitive approach where children challenge themselves physically and encourage the development of strength, balance and endurance. Dina’s approach to beginning sports, relay races, parachute play and other games helps the children to develop not only their physical strength but also to learn game rules, practice teamwork and develop their critical thinking skills and perseverance. The children enjoy developing their gross motor skills while running, skipping, hopping, galloping, jumping, throwing, and kicking. In keeping with the young child’s need to move and spend more time outside, we know that this program serves many important immediate and long term goals, while the children are having fun!
At RPNS we have a fully equipped art studio and a full time art studio teacher. Our studio teacher, Gail Walter, welcomes small groups of students into the studio daily to experience open-ended exploration, as well as extend classroom project work and school wide investigations. Experiences are designed to incorporate the process of “thinking with our hands” using three-dimensional, sensory, and hands on learning. Natural and recycled materials are used to enhance and develop the children’s skills in clay, sculpture, water color, collage, paper making, weaving, drawing, painting and constructing. Parents receive photos and videos documenting their child’s art studio experience and demonstrating the learning that takes place at each child’s visit.
We integrate strategies into the daily curriculum that help our young children along the path of letter recognition, letter sound knowledge, letter formation and handwriting. In keeping with our Reggio inspired curriculum, we are providing our children, ages two through five, with authentic, age appropriate experiences with letters and words, rather than drills, memorization, and worksheet exercises.
In our two and three year old classes there are many continuous experiences presented to support pre-reading skills and literacy: singing letter and initial sound songs; recognizing names on placemats at the snack table; making uppercase letters with natural materials, with clay, in sand, and even with their own bodies; writing and sharing “notes” in message centers; creating their own poems and rhyming words; playing letter games and reading books for comprehension.
In our four and five year old classes we incorporate literacy goals from the New York State Common Core Curriculum. Names are a highly motivating place to begin letter knowledge for children, so they also learn to read and write the names of classmates and family members. Name cards in all uppercase letters are used initially because capital letters, consisting of straight lines with fewer curves, are easier to form than lower case letters. Once a child has mastered writing their name in all uppercase letters, we then encourage them to write their names with the initial letter capitalized and the rest in lowercase.
In the fours and fives, students participate in journal writing. The children draw a picture at the top of their journal page and write several words underneath describing their drawing. We use inventive spelling with the students encouraging them to phonetically spell words. The children are exposed to sentence strips to help them understand and experience the positioning of the letters as they write them on the lines.
Project based writing, reading and research, is part of every class study. Phonemic awareness games at circle time encourage children to identify letter sounds, letter names and rhymes.
We are aware that every child has a different learning style and pace, and as teachers, we are here to guide them on this journey using creative, fun and authentic experiences that motivate them to enjoy writing and reading.
Outdoor Learning Environment
The outdoor classroom at RPNS was installed in the summer of 2016 by Learn’ique Design-to-Learn. It was designed and constructed with a great attention to detail and a full understanding of child development. Natural materials including cedar wood, river rocks, and soft grass are incorporated to create a sense of calm and a genuine connection with the outdoors. A running waterfall provides a soothing soundtrack for observing and investigating concepts related to moving water.
In addition, this unique space is fitted with custom-built outdoor painting easels, cozy, cushioned benches and a handmade child-sized table and stools. A fabric-swagged pergola provides a full canopy over the entire area offering shade from the sun, and enhancing the overall look and feel.
This outdoor learning environment allows us to develop and implement curriculum that extends the learning beyond the inside walls of our classrooms and offers the children enhanced opportunities for outdoor exploration and hands-on learning.